West coast refinery project: Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg farmers demand Rs1 crore a hectare

The proposed West Coast Refinery and Petrochemical project seems to have run into trouble, as farmers in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg have asked the state government to hike the land acquisition rate to Rs1crore a hectare — at par with the Mubmbai-Nagpur super communication highway.

The project, which is estimated to cost Rs2.5 lakh crore, needs 6,018 hectares of land from around 3,000 farmers in 16 villages in two districts.

The state government in May issued a notification under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Act, clarifying its intent to acquire land for the project.

The project has been proposed by three government-controlled oil marketing companies with the stakes of the Centre and the state governments.

The state has followed the acquisition formula adopted for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in 2013. Farmers in Jaitapur have opposed the land acquisition rate: Rs 22.50 lakh a hectare.

In a meeting with Ravindra Chavan, minister of ports and medical education, a delegation of farmers quoted the rate given to Mumbai-Nagpur and Mumbai-Pune expressways and raised 27 demands, including Rs1crore a hectare.

“The delegation expressed its displeasure over the rate being offered to farmers. The government paid Rs1crore a hectare in the Mumbai-Goa highway road widening project and Rs52 lakh to Rs5.2 crore a hectare for the Mumbai-Nagpur corridor. The next meeting has been convened by industries minister Subhash Desai on July 24,” said an official from MIDC.

Shiv Sena alleged that the project would disturb the bio-diversity, increase pollution levels and destroy farmers’ livelihood. In a climbdown of sorts, it now says that if farmers are ready to handover their land, it has no objection. “If our 27 demands are fulfilled, we have no objection to the project,” Rajan Salvi, Shiv Sena MLA from Rajapur, told HT.

“I am sure the BJP-led government at the Centre and in the state will fulfil all these demands,” said Pramod Jathar former BJP MLA from Kankavali.

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